Britain Helps - Shaking off stigma on the basketball court

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Left paralysed and in a wheelchair after being shot in Syria, Shaher now helps other disabled people recover through sport.

February 8, 2019 | admin
The real healing came in psychosocial support sessions provided by Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International) with UK Aid support.

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Seeing 27-year-old Shaher racing around a basketball court it’s hard to imagine that he only just escaped Syria with his life.


His wide smile and camaraderie with his wheelchair basketball team mates conceal a barely believable story.


Shaher was shot and dumped in a mass grave in his hometown of Daraa in southwestern Syria. Somehow, he managed signal for help – and narrowly avoided being buried alive.


WATCH: Shaher: I was shot in Syria, now I shoot hoops


Despite his lucky escape, his injuries were severe and left him paralysed.


He escaped to Jordan where, with physiotherapy, he learned to get around in a wheelchair.


But the real healing came in psychosocial support sessions provided by Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International) with UK Aid support.


Shaher was able to talk about his experiences with other disabled people from Syria and Jordan – and share the burden of his psychological trauma and the stigma around disability.


Today, Shaher is seen as an inspiration to others.


He runs his own small business – a mobile phone shop – and dreams of expanding it in the future.


He also volunteers at a support group for other disabled people.


Among many people he’s helped is Raouf, a young man who was struggling to spend time with others because of his shame about being disabled.


He helped him overcome his fears and make new friends – and they play basketball together weekly.


It is a chance, they say, to be “normal”


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